Five elected officials resign to run in CD 20 Special Election

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Five elected officials have formally resigned their positions to run in the upcoming Special Election in Florida’s 20th Congressional District.

That decision is final, but doesn’t kick in until the Jan. 11 Special General Election contest. That means state Sen. Perry Thurston, state Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy, and Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief will all be out of their current positions by early next year.

One of them could succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings in CD 20. Hastings passed away in early April after  a cancer battle.

Florida law requires elected officials seeking another office to first resign their original position in order to run in another contest. The moves come just days ahead of the deadline for the CD 20 election. Candidates who currently hold office needed to step down at least 10 days before qualifying in CD 20 begins on Aug. 9.

Though all five clearly showed intent to run to replace Hastings, there was still a window for any of the lawmakers to reconsider those decisions and withdraw from the Special Election contest, thereby allowing them to retain their current roles. All five decided to forgo that opportunity.

The five officials who resigned are certainly contenders for Hastings’ former seat, though they’ve shown various levels of fundraising prowess since entering the race. Holness and DuBose were near the top of the fundraising field last quarter. Thurston placed third in outside cash, followed by Hardy and Sharief, though some candidates have loaned themselves cash as well.

That includes Democratic candidate Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who loaned herself more than $2 million last quarter.

Overall, there are more than a dozen Democrats — along with seven Republicans or third-party candidates — who have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to compete in the contest. The Special Election for an open congressional seat is a rarity, prompting a wide array of candidates to jump into the contest.

The Primary Election will take place Nov. 2. The Democratic primary is the main race to watch given the district’s leftward lean. According to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index, CD 20 leans Democratic by 28 percentage points. The district spans Broward and Palm Beach counties, crossing several majority-Black areas near major cities such as Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Thurston’s Senate seat and the House seats held by DuBose and Hardy are likely safely Democratic, depending on the effect of redistricting. But for the Broward County Commission seats held by Holness and Sharief, Gov. Ron DeSantis will get to name temporary replacements who will serve until the Nov. 2022 election.

The Governor will also now need to set a Special Election for each of the three seats now vacant in the Legislature. It’s unclear whether those elections will run concurrently with the CD 20 schedule.


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